Art Collection · Barry Windsor-Smith · Christopher Marlowe · Finn Matthews · Mahendra Singh · Tamburlaine

Look Here: Art by Finn Matthews

In early May of this year, I approached Canadian illustrator Finn Matthews with an idea for a commission. Finn is currently working with writer Mahendra Singh, who is an excellent illustrator in his own right, on an ambitious graphic novel, Tamburlaine: The Scourge of God, that seeks to transmute Christopher Marlowe’s Tamburlaine the Great (Part I & Part II) into Space Opera. My idea was to have Finn draw a scene from Tamburlaine that he had not yet tackled, but to do so in a way that would combine his love of Marlowe’s play and his existing Druillet-inspired designs with ideas and motifs from works by Gustave Moreau, Barry Windsor-Smith, and others — some old favourites of mine, basically — and on Friday of last week, I received via Canada Post the completed page, which is absolutely stunning. I think it’s fair to say that Finn and I both had a blast working together to shape the final art, and I thought it might be fun and instructive to display it here at RCN along with some of the images that the page references.

ABOVE: The completed page on 11 x 14 inch Strathmore 500 Series plate-finish bristol.
ABOVE: Proposed cover for Tamburlaine: The Scourge of God, with art by Finn Matthews.
ABOVE: Page (in progress) from Tamburlaine: The Scourge of God by Mahendra Singh and Finn Matthews.
ABOVE: Character designs by Finn Matthews for Tamburlaine: The Scourge of God.
ABOVE: Here’s the relevant excerpt from Marlowe’s Tamburlaine. Finn was delighted with my choice, although I did express a preference for a shortened exchange, and that’s what made it into the commission (see original art).
ABOVE: Watercolour version of “The Apparition” by Gustave Moreau.
ABOVE: Page of original art by Barry Windsor-Smith from the Marvel comics adaptation of Robert E. Howard’s “Red Nails.”
ABOVE: The opening page from Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith’s “The Song of Red Sonja.”
ABOVE: Another page from “The Song of Red Sonja.”
ABOVE: Page from a story by Frank Thorne that features multiple Red Sonjas.
ABOVE: Thor page by Walt Simonson that displays his characteristic inking strategy of leaving a white border around figures when the background is black.
ABOVE: The framed commission.

While the choice of scene was mine, it was entirely Finn’s idea to break it down into a three-panel sequence, complete with balloons featuring the precise subsection of the dialogue between the First Virgin and Tamburlaine that I had mentioned in conversation that I like best, which was a cool surprise. (When I first contacted Finn, I had thought that I was commissioning an inked drawing, not a fully formed comics page, which I think anyone would view as a significant upgrade, but let’s just say that, as the process unfolded, we both got a bit carried away.) The term “XenoBramic” in the opening word balloon is an addition to Marlowe that may or may not appear in Tamburlaine: The Scourge of God, which, when it is published, will be Finn’s first professional credit in comics. Follow Finn on Twitter and/or Instagram for updates on the progress of his and Mahendra’s graphic novel. And publishers: there are still opportunities for a few brave souls worldwide to join the crew of Tamburlaine’s corsair, the Maa-Durga, which is already prowling the space lanes for plunder and booty, so hup to it!

Barry Windsor-Smith · Connections · Illustration Art · Look Here

Connections: Gustave Doré and Barry Windsor-Smith

[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]


BONUS INFO:

In The Studio (Dragon’s Dream, 1979), on pages 103 and 104, Barry Windsor-Smith provides a brief account of the genesis of Whithering:

“In the spring of 1975 I was working on a pen and ink drawing of trees, just trees. It was inspired, in part, by a wonderful painting of old Hampstead Heath by John Constable. At that time I didn’t think my audience was ready for — or let’s say interested in — a new work by me that was ‘just trees.’ Constable himself had a witticism about painting some of his pictures with ‘eye salve.’ What he meant was that he would make a picture as commercial as possible if he needed to sell it. As I wanted the fantasy market to see my tree drawing, I took a tip from Constable and applied a little ‘fantastic eye balm’: right in the middle of the picture I drew a shrouded figure of Death — a skull-headed man — and off in the distance a dark, foreboding mansion. This made the trees seemingly incidental. I called it Whithering (p. 110)… a deliberate non sequitur.” […]

“One night I got a frenzied call from an associate in London. He’d just shown a reproduction of the picture to a much respected fellow artist whom I’d never met, and whom my associate had only just met. Over the crackling transatlantic line I heard him say, ‘Hey! Guess what!… I just showed Whithering to so-and-so and guess what he said, — ‘Ahh, Constable; those trees. Barry just stuck that dead bloke in there so he could get away with drawing trees, didn’t he’?… He knew! There were a few cackles of laughter and then he hung up; that was the end of the call. I was suffering from insomnia at the time, I recall I slept that night and glowed the next day.”

Does Windsor-Smith’s reminiscence rule out the influence of Doré’s composition on Whithering? I don’t think so, but if you check out the comments section of this post, you’ll find a reader who disagrees with me.


BONUS IMAGES:

Three paintings of “Hampstead Heath” by John Constable:

Barry Windsor-Smith · Comics · Look There

Look There: Barry Windsor-Smith’s “Cimmeria” (1973 – 2010)

[CLICK IMAGE TO VISIT SUGGESTED WEB SITE]

BONUS LINKS:

The Bronze Age of Blogs: “Cimmeria,” poem by Robert E. Howard, art by Barry [Windsor-]Smith and Tim Conrad, Savage Sword of Conan #24 (November 1977).

Barry Windsor-Smith Unofficial Blog: “Cimmeria,” poem by Robert E. Howard, art (in pencil) by Barry [Windsor-]Smith, Savage Tales #2 (October 1973).

Barry Windsor-Smith · Frank Bellamy · Heads Up!

Heads Up: Tully and Bellamy’s “Heros the Spartan” in 2011?

Here are two sample pages from Heros the Spartan, written by Tom Tully and drawn by Frank Bellamy:

And here are the details of the forthcoming collection from Titan Books; my source is the Amazon.co.uk online catalogue:

Heros the Spartan [Hardcover]
Tom Tully (Author)

RRP: £12.57
Price: £9.59 & this item Delivered FREE in the UK with Super Saver Delivery. See details and conditions
You Save: £2.98

# Hardcover: 128 pages
# Publisher: Titan Books (UK) (3 May 2011)
# Language English
# ISBN-10: 1848568932
# ISBN-13: 978-1848568938

There’s also a listing for Heros the Spartan at Amazon.ca with a ridiculous publication date of “Dec 31 2035,” but the ISBN-10 and ISBN-13 numbers are the same as in the listing at Amazon.co.uk, so I think Bellamy fans have reason to believe that a collection really is in the works.

BTW, if you’re looking for a heavy-weight endorsement of Frank Bellamy’s work on Heros the Spartan, you need look no further than RCN favourite, Barry Windsor-Smith, who said in an interview with Comic Book Artist magazine in 1998, “I was quite awestruck by Bellamy, his Heros the Spartan was simply magnificent.[…] Britain had a clutch of exceptionally gifted comics artists during the ’50s and ’60s but the subject matter of the strips often disinterested me. I liked Dan Dare and Heros, I think that’s all. I named the lead male character in my ‘Young Gods’ series Heros in homage to Bellamy.”

Given his fond memories and admiring assessment of Heros the Spartan, I would imagine that BWS was pleased to be profiled, along with Frank Bellamy (and eight other comics luminaries), by P. R. Garriock in his 1978 book, Masters of Comic Book Art. As I recall, one of the highlights of Garriock’s book was the inclusion of an episode of Heros that had been “exhibited in New York in 1972 when Bellamy received the award for Best Foreign Artist from the Academy of Comic Book Art” (Garriock, p. 38); a monumental battle sequence, the strip was reproduced in full-colour across two full pages — 40 and 41 — of what was a 9-by-12-inch trade paperback.

The other artists profiled by Garriock included Richard Corben, Robert Crumb, Philippe Druillet, Will Eisner, Jean Giraud, Harvey Kurtzman, Victor Moscoso, and Wallace Wood.

Barry Windsor-Smith · Heads Up! · Here, Read · Interviews · Jim Steranko · Look Here

Look Here, Read: An interview with BWS from 1978

From a 33-year-old catalogue of “original art for sale” entitled Cartoonists and Illustrator’s Portfolio Volume Three (Wyomissing, PA: Supergraphics, 1978), here’s a short interview with Barry Windsor-Smith, conducted by the catalogue’s publisher, James Steranko:

[CLICK IMAGES TO ENLARGE]

As I’ve noted previously on this blog, BWS has a new print available for purchase from Glimmer Graphics. Also, just to give you a little heads up, I should note that 2011 will see the re-publication, in hardcover, of X-Men: Lifedeath.

As of today at Amazon.ca, here are the details:

X-Men: Lifedeath [Hardcover]

Arnold Drake (Author), Chris Claremont (Author), Barry Windsor-Smith (Illustrator)

List Price: CDN$ 27.99
Price: CDN$ 17.55 & eligible for FREE Super Saver Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25.
You Save: CDN$ 10.44

# Hardcover: 152 pages
# Publisher: Marvel (July 20 2011)
# Language: English
# ISBN-10: 0785155244
# ISBN-13: 978-0785155249

Product Description

Revolutionary artist Barry Windsor-Smith takes on the Uncanny X-Men! The original X-Men go toe-to-toe against Blastaar, deadly menace from the Negative Zone! Storm and Forge find themselves trapped on a primitive paradise world with no hope of escape! Spiral and Lady Deathstrike target Wolverine for death! And Dazzler is hunted by the Marauders, with only the X-Men to save her!

“Arnold Drake (Author)”? Funny, I bought the LifeDeath comics, back in the day, and I don’t remember that at all… but anyway, it’ll be nice to have the work on my bookshelf in hardcover form… I just hope they don’t screw up the colour too badly…